Mordechai Vanunu Detained after ‘Contacting Foreigners’

April 29, 2015  

Mordechai Vanunu, the former nuclear technician convicted of leaking Israeli nuclear secrets nearly 30 years ago, was detained by police over Independence Day, under suspicion of breaking the conditions of his release by contacting foreigners.

According to his attorney, left-wing activist Michael Sfard, Vanunu was question for “hours” in custody last Thursday evening at Jerusalem’s Russian Compound police station, after he was spotted having a long conversation with two foreigners he met in the international book store at the American Colony Hotel.

Vanunu was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 1986, after being convicted of treason and espionage for revealing details of Israel’s nuclear plant in Dimona, where he had been employed.

Given that Vanunu – who converted to Christianity, changed his name to John Crossman and renounced all ties to his people while in prison – had expressed no remorse over his actions, upon his release in 2004 authorities set strict conditions to prevent him from disclosing any further secrets. Among other things, he was forbidden to speak to foreigners, and must report all his movements to authorities. He is also banned from leaving Israel or even approaching its borders.

In 2010, he was jailed for three months for violating the restrictions.

For his part, Vanunu claims he has no further secrets to reveal and that the restrictions are unjustified. He says he simply wants to leave Israel to start a new life elsewhere.

After those terms were slightly relaxed late last year following an appeal, Vanunu is now allowed to “hold a chance conversation in person with foreign citizens or foreign residents, as long as it is a one-time conversation that is held face-to-face, not planned in advance, takes place in a public space open to the general public and which lasts for a period of no more than 30 minutes.”

That is what Vanunu – and his attorney – insist was the case last week. They claim the prolonged conversation took place after two foreign tourists happened to approach him at the book store by chance, and note that it was conducted in a public area.

The informant was arrested mid-conversation by seven Border Police officers and a female police officer, according to Sfard.

He was released after a bizarre discussion during which it was debated as to whether Vanunu had spoken for more than half an hour, and whether that calculation should be effected by the fact that he spoke to two people, he added.

Vanunu has refused to speak to the Israeli media since his release, saying he will only consider doing so once the restrictions on his speaking to foreign media outlets are lifted.

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  1. Eileen Fleming says:

    In 2005 this American writer met Vanunu and began a series of interviews which led to “30 Minutes with Vanunu” taped in 2006 shortly after his FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial began.

    Outcome from that kangaroo court consigned Vanunu to 78 days back in solitary in 2010, so I published “BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu’s FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010”

    As Vanunu’s struggle for the right to leave Israel continued I published the FREE eBook:

    “The Vanunu Legend: Israel’s Nuclear Whistleblower’s Struggle for Freedom”

    I am Eileen Fleming, Senior Non-Arab Correspondent for USA’s The Arab Daily News

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